Foodgrain output to break record again

Written by Commodities Bureau | Agencies | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 15 2009, 04:24am hrs
Amid the bad news flowing in from the corporate world, India's farmers are shining and if the weather remains favourable in the next few months, the country is poised to record another year of bumper foodgrain production. In the 2007-08-crop year (June-July period), India produced a record 230.67 million tonne of foodgrains, on the back of all-time high output of rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses. "As on today, probably we will be able to cross last year's production. Last year, India recorded its highest foodgrain output. I think we will be able to cross that figure," Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an official function.

He said that foodgrain production was expected to increase because of conducive weather and higher acreage under rice, coarse cereals, oilseeds and pulses. According to the latest official data, Indian farmers have planted wheat in around 26.97 million hectare till January 2, up from 26.57 million hectare sown during the same period last year. The area under pulses rose to 13.35 million hectare during the same period, up from 12.56 million hectare sown during the same period last year. Oilseeds acreage rose to 8.98 million hectare, up from 8.15 million hectare during the corresponding year.

"The climate is very convenient, very favourable for wheat. So, whatever information we are getting from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is quite favourable," Pawar said. Though the sowing of Rabi crops is in the last lap, the minister said that the minimum support prices of such crops, like wheat, would be taken up by the Cabinet in its next meeting.

Meanwhile, on reviewing the ban on exports of non-Basmati rice and easing curbs on export of Basmati (aromatic) rice in the light of expected bumper harvest, the minister said that the government would take a look at it during the first week of February and may also provide some relief to Basmati exporters. "As far as non-Basmati rice is concerned, we have not decided on it yet. We will decide after assessing the stock position and crop situation in the first week of February," Pawar said